Public Sector: Looking Ahead to 2021

An interesting and valuable article about the federal workforce also articulates the challenges in the state and local public sector. In 2020 we have seen public sector employees adapt to unique challenges in dealing with a worldwide pandemic amidst a workforce that is closer to retirement than other sectors while dealing with budgetary shortfalls.

Managing a Changing Workforce

When contending with the need to manage retiring employees, the first is to refresh recruiting practices, and this article might be helpful. In addition to successfully acquiring new talent, it is essential to manage the loss of institutional knowledge.

Many employers have learned that helping their employees with retirement planning can pay unexpected dividends to manage this loss. Employees who have a clear financial path with a plan for activities may be willing to retire in stages that are helpful to the organization. Having those who know small details of how a job is performed is nice to have nearby while other employees are coming up to speed. It is always a luxury to know why practices were started if you want to change them, and having people very familiar with practices that need updating is a benefit.

Budgetary Challenges

In the last recession, public sector employers and their employees excelled at LEAN solutions for their workplaces that were innovative and saved significant costs. If you decide to undertake this process, here are some tips:

  • Confer with others who have instituted such practices successfully and consider training. Employers Council has training to offer.
  • Once you are well aware of the concept and want to get started, communicate clearly to employees that they are critical in this endeavor. It is so important to have those doing the work each day provide the ideas and plans for moving forward.
  • Employees may have ideas for not only saving money but for ways the town could make money. In Texas, one town had municipal employees working in public works return grocery carts dropped off around town for a fee to the store that kept losing them. Others started collaborating with other public entities to save significant capital costs while improving services.
  • If you ask employees for ideas, you must respond to those ideas, either implementing them or clearly explaining why they will not, or cannot, be implemented.

Updating Employee Handbooks

One last item to consider is employee handbooks. Chances are, your practices have changed considerably during the pandemic. How many of these practices will stay?  What might be left behind?  In addition, many state employment laws are passing throughout the country, and you may live in an area where you must change practices to meet those laws. All of this makes for a great time to take a fresh look at your handbook. Again, Employers Council can help. We have sample handbooks for the public sector specifically.

Best of luck as you begin a fresh new year!